Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 first ride review

Marin’s original alloy-framed Alpine Trail proved the viability of producing a burly enduro bike on a budget. Now the Californian brand has designed a new version that not only looks and performs better than its predecessor but is available with a lighter carbon fibre front end, too – and all without breaking the bank.

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 frame and geometry

In essence, the new Alpine Trail isn’t a far cry from the old one. It’s still a 150mm-travel 29er, based around Marin’s MultiTrac suspension design, which uses an alloy rocker link (now forged rather than welded) to actuate the shock and provide a progressive leverage rate.

The rear end is still Series 4 aluminium, but on the Alpine Trail Carbon 1 and Carbon 2 the front triangle is now moulded in sleek unidirectional carbon fibre. While the Alpine Trail 7 and XR remain full-aluminium, the geometry changes are consistent across the range.

In line with current trends, the new bike has been raked out with a longer reach, up from 465mm to 480mm on the large size I tested, and a slacker head angle, now a stable 63.5 degrees.

At the same time, the seat tube has been steepened considerably to 78 degrees, giving an upright climbing position. The bottom bracket remains an already-low 35mm below the axles, and chainstay length stays the same, too, at a compact 430mm.

Seat angle (degrees)78787878
Head angle (degrees)63.563.563.563.5
Chainstay (cm)43434343
Seat tube (cm)394042.543
Top tube (cm)56.1758.961.565.2
Head tube (cm)101111.513
Fork offset (cm)
Bottom bracket drop (cm)
Bottom bracket height (cm)
Wheelbase (mm)1,1991,2291,2561,297
Standover (cm)6969.469.569.8
Stack (cm)61.962.863.264.3
Reach (cm)4345.54851.1

Seat tube height and standover are noticeably low, giving the Alpine Trail an elegant, continuous line from head tube to dropouts.

Finishing touches include an additional bottle mount on the underside of the top tube – ideal for securing tools/spares – plus integrated down tube and chainstay protectors.

Cable routing is fully internal, but the rubber grommets in the entry ports don’t clamp the cables, so rough descents are accompanied by a hollow rattle.

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 kit

For the money, the kit you get on the Carbon 1 is excellent. The 160mm-travel RockShox Yari RC fork has decent damping and gives superb support, matched at the rear by the Select+ RC air shock.

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Rockshox Deluxe Select+ Rear Shock On The Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike

The RockShox Deluxe Select+ rear shock feels great out on the trails.

Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Wide (29mm internal) Marin rims shod with 2.5in Maxxis Assegai rubber, with reinforced EXO+ and Double Down casings, further improve the bike’s descending ability, the blocky tread pattern maintaining grip in even the filthiest of conditions – although I question Marin’s decision to spec the softer 3C MaxxGrip compound on the rear and the harder MaxxTerra option up front.

The four-piston Shimano MT420 brakes assist on the downhills too, but I’m not a fan of the long MT4100 levers, which don’t give as effective modulation as Shimano’s shorter Servowave levers and can suffer from a wandering bite point.

Powering the bike is Shimano’s wide-range, 12-speed Deore drivetrain, which shifts smoothly, provided you adjust the B-tension screw just right.

Tranzx Ysp23Jl Seatpost On The Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike

While the TranzX post works fine (save for a sticky lever), I’d prefer a bit more travel.

Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

The 150mm-travel TranzX dropper post functions reliably, but the lever is prone to getting stuck, needing a hard push, and it’d be nice to see a longer-drop post on a bike of this size.

Despite the carbon front triangle, the Alpine Trail Carbon 1 weighs a chunky 15.78kg. I can’t say I noticed this being a limiting factor on the trail, though.

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Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 first ride impressions

The old Alpine Trail was a fast descender, but not without its shortcomings. The instant I threw a leg over the new one, I could tell the bar had been raised.

Those geometry changes have made what was already a confidence-inspiring machine into something I was happy to hurl at full speed into some pretty scary terrain.

Male Cyclist In Blue Top Riding The Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 Full Suspension Mountain Bike

With a great ride and a price tag lower than that of some brands’ carbon frames, the Marin is a real bargain.

Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

The extra length, coupled with the slack head angle and low centre of gravity, makes it easy to maintain a well-centred stance and just let the suspension do its thing.

Running 30 per cent sag, I found the rear end stayed super-active, tracking well over rough ground, yet still ramping up with an impressively bottomless feel on bigger hits. If it weren’t for the cable rattle, things would feel exceptionally smooth, even though the bike isn’t specced with top-of-the-range dampers.

Although this is a bike designed with gravity riding in mind, I still enjoyed taking it on some longer missions. It climbs reasonably well, even if the deep-tread, soft-compound tyres do drag a bit and the seatpost drop could be longer.

While it performs well as it is, what really makes the Alpine Trail Carbon 1 stand out is what a great platform it would be for some upgrades.

My criticisms, which are small, are all down to the value-conscious build kit. The frame – which ticks all the boxes, with excellent geometry and suspension – makes for a race-ready enduro rig that rips just as well on mellower trails as on the tougher stuff.

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1 early verdict

Great frame geometry and suspension action, backed up by sleek carbon fibre looks and a solid suite of parts for the price.


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